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From Hólar to Lisbon: Middle English literature in medieval translation, c.1286-c.1550

Byrne, A. ORCID: (2020) From Hólar to Lisbon: Middle English literature in medieval translation, c.1286-c.1550. Review of English Studies, 71 (300). pp. 433-459. ISSN 1471-6968

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/res/hgz085


This paper offers the first survey of evidence for the translation of Middle English literature beyond the English-speaking world in the medieval period. It identifies and discusses translations in five vernaculars: Welsh, Irish, Old Norse- Icelandic, Dutch, and Portuguese. The paper examines the contexts in which such translation took place and considers the role played by colonial, dynastic, trading, and ecclesiastical networks in the transmission of these works. It argues that English is in the curious position of being a vernacular with a reasonable international reach in translation, but often with relatively low literary and cultural prestige. It is evident that most texts translated from English in this period are works which themselves are based on sources in other languages, and it seems probable that English-language texts are often convenient intermediaries for courtly or devotional works more usually transmitted in French or Latin.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:85421
Publisher:Oxford University Press


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